Image credit: Remnant
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Here’s the thing you should know about shopping for sustainable bathing suits. You can’t get any made without petrochemical-based synthetics. We’re sorry. There are a few brands listed below that are mostly natural materials like hemp and modal, but they still contain some synthetic fibers to provide stretch.
You’ve probably seen some crocheted bikinis made with cotton, but unfortunately, once that crochet cotton gets wet, it stretches out. EcoCult founder Alden Wicker once complained to a brand that makes crochet bikinis, and was told it’s not supposed to go in the water. So, for adventures in the pool, ocean, river, or cenote, you’ll find yourself wearing synthetic.
Many conscious bathing suit brands have turned to synthetic textiles made from recycled plastics. By far, the most popular fabric is ECONYL, a high-quality Italian fiber made from upcycled nylon fishing nets, textile waste, and old carpets. Others are made with polyester from recycled PET plastic bottles.
You also want to look at where the textile is printed (in Europe or the United States is best), where the bathing suit is sewn (in a certified fair and safe factory is ideal), and what kind of packaging the company uses, like polybags made of compostable or recycled materials.
Some brands also have OEKO-TEX certification, which means the bathing suit has been tested and certified free of toxic chemicals. Finally, avoid bathing suits that boast quick-dry properties — that is often achieved using PFAS, a class of chemicals that have been linked to a host of health issues, including higher risk of obesity, several kinds of cancer, and fertility issues.
Lucky for you, there are many brands popping up all the time that use recycled textiles and other sustainable and ethical manufacturing practices. So there’s no need to compromise on your style.
Remnant is an L.A.-based high-quality, sustainable swimwear brand that creates designs out of upcycled nylon. Its rescued nylon comes from ghost fishing nets, ocean-bound plastic, and textile remnants that go through a complex regeneration process to become a soft, sustainable fabric. Remnant’s bikinis are manufactured in Bali and its seamstresses are paid double the minimum wage, receive free health insurance for themselves and their families and free meals at work. All dyes used in the production of the fabric and packaging are toxin-free and are environmentally friendly. Instead of being petroleum-based, these dyes are water or soy-based and do not emit harmful substances when they break down. Remnant’s packaging is biodegradable and home-compostable-certified.
A leader in sustainability for the past four decades, Patagonia’s swimwear is made from a soft and durable 83% recycled polyester/ 17% spandex blend, and all the sewing is done in Fair Trade certified factories.
Made in California, many of Vitamin A’s swimsuits are made with EcoLux fabric, a blend of Repreve RECYCLED nylon fiber, and LYCRA XTRA LIFE fiber for a subtle sheen and gorgeous, long-lasting fit.
Designed and made in New York City, REVVV SWIM is a sustainable active swimwear brand created by fashion industry veteran Cristina Aguayo. A swimmer since childhood and a lover of the outdoors, Aguayo’s idea emerged from seeking a go-to sustainable, fashionable, and athletic swimsuit she couldn’t find. REVVV SWIM blends style and athleticism to create a versatile one-piece suit that suits the beach and the city. Its one-piece suit is timeless, classic, and made from 100% ECONYL. Each swimsuit comes in a 100% recycled, hand screen printed muslin bag and is shipped in a 100% compostable mailer.
Noize creates inclusive swimwear using Italian ECONYL. The brand’s styles are designed for every body type, with the option for more or less coverage. Customers can choose designs from size XS-XL and a plus-size collection that goes up to 3X.
Made in the U.S. of Italian recycled polyester/spandex fabric, Mara Hoffman’s bathing suits have SPF50 built into their colorful, patterned fabrics. Its garment workers are treated and paid fairly and it aims to minimize waste and energy usage throughout the entire supply chain.
OOKIOH makes “modern swimwear with a splash of nostalgia.” The materials are sourced from an Italian mill and are 100% regenerated (meaning they come from the ocean and post-consumer waste). The brand is currently working toward completely eliminating virgin plastic from its entire system in the next few years.
MIGA’s one and two-piece bathing suits are inspired by the disability, chronic illness, and disfigurement community (but are meant to be worn by all!). During the design process, the MIGA team consults with community members to craft its vibrant swimwear with ease in mind. Its Italian-made fabric is woven from regenerated polyamide yarn, resistant to chlorine, and is SPF50. MIGA uses 100% recycled packaging.
Jade Swim is a sustainable swimwear line using both deadstock fibers and ECONYL, regenerated nylon from plastic waste such as fishnets taken out of the ocean and remade into new nylon fabric. Inspired by New York City and made in Los Angeles, the brand combines both minimal and sensual aesthetics that can easily transition into ready-to-wear.
Casa Raki’s designs are South American inspired, designed in London, and made ethically in Portugal with ECONYL. The brand only uses sustainable materials and processes while focusing on improving and extending garment life.
Ansea is a brand specializing in eco-friendly apparel for women who love the sea. Its collection includes wetsuits, swimsuits, and premium loungewear, all from sustainable materials. The wetsuits are made of a plant-based alternative to Neoprene called Yulex, which produces 80% less CO2 during manufacturing. Meanwhile, the swimsuits are made from ECONYL in New York City, abiding by strict labor regulations and water-conscious practices.
For the Dreamers swimwear is made mostly out of ECONYL. In order to decrease its environmental impact, it works with a carbon-neutral shipping company and uses more environmentally friendly printing machines for labels, recycled wrapping, and compostable shipping bags. Plus, 5% of every purchase is donated to an organization that provides clean water to those without access to it.
Medina Swimwear’s luxury designs are made from ECONYL and can be used repeatedly without losing their integrity. Its pieces are also UV-proof, sun cream, oil, and chlorine resistant. Medina Swimwear donates a percentage of each collection’s sales to nonprofit organizations committed to protecting the oceans.
Natasha Tonic’s swimwear is made from a natural, eco-friendly hemp fabric that is anti-microbial, UV resistant, durable, and better for your skin and the planet. Its suits also can do double duty as lingerie, bodysuits, or activewear. They are designed, dyed, and sewn locally in Los Angeles, California.
Dippin’s Daisy’s swimwear is made out of recycled nylon. Its designs are manufactured at its own factory in Los Angeles and produced in small batches. The bathing suit’s adjustable straps are made from lead-free, non-toxic metal, its bra inserts are made from recycled foam and the elastic used in its suits are made from organic and natural rubber trees. Dippin’s Daisy uses biodegradable packaging.
Launched in 2015, Bower is an ethical and sustainable swim and resort wear brand. Since 2019, one percent of Bower’s orders are donated to the Healthy Seas initiative, aiming to remove waste from the seas. The brand chooses to produce in Europe so its employees can regularly visit and guarantee that all garment workers are paid legal wages under EU guidelines and are provided with safe working conditions. All of its swim fabric is produced using ECONYL yarn. Its shipping boxes are made from 70% recycled fibers and are 100% recyclable. Its tissue paper is certified by the Eco Packaging Alliance, meaning its supplier plants trees to contribute to global reforestation in areas of need.
Wolven swimwear and athleisure is made from OEKO-TEX-certified, recycled PET plastic bottles and carbon-neutral modal fabric. It also partners with NativeEnergy to carbon offset its operations footprint and choose more eco-conscious packaging to ship products to its customers. Wolven’s Chinese manufacturing partner is certified by WCA for labor, wages, work hours, health, safety, and environmental practices.